On the 30th of the month I was celebrating my birthday.
For this great event, Juan offered me “a week-end on the bike with the right to as many “pics stops” as I wished”.
We had planned to leave early on the 1st to an unknown destination (for me). We went on my bike, me as pillion, to just enjoy the views.
We got up early, and seeing that it was pissing rain, we decided to… go back to bed until one hour later, to see if it stopped. One hour later we got up again, but it was still raining. We got up anyway, started preparing the things and we would go when ready. At about 11.00am it stopped raining and the sun appeared. We went to pick up the bike, put on the saddlebags, put on our rainsuits just in case and at last we left.
Juan told me that the first step was to get to “Sant Llorenç de Morunys”. I knew quite well that road for having ridden it a few weeks earlier, so I could indicate him the way (although he had a map, I am a good GPS- a sometimes kind of hysterical GPS but GPS anyway!).
So we started C58, Manresa, Solsona… I was surprised to see snow caped mountains and some views I had not seen a few weeks earlier when I took the same road. Maybe it was because there was no snow by then? (it had been snowing 2 days before), or maybe because as I was riding myself I couldn’t see all the landscapes that I was seeing now.
When we arrived at the crossroad that goes to Sant Llorenç, Juan stopped and told me he thought Googlemaps had got confused, and he preferred to follow suit to Bassella to get the road to Andorra. What we did… And we stopped to fuel and have a bite in “Pans&Company” of Bassella motorbike museum. There in the sun at the terrace, nor cold nor warm, it felt so good!
After “recharging our batteries”, we hit the road to Andorra again, to I didn’t know where… We went through Coll de Nargó, and after that I didn’t know where we could go apart from Andorra… After el Plà de Sant Tirs and with the road quite busy, we suddenly took a turn on the left… and there started the Road of the Pics…
The N-260, so-called “Eix Pirinenc” in Catalan, from there is a road with twisties and more twisties, first up during some kilometres, with views to valleys and snow-capped peaks, more valleys and more snow-capped peaks… We stopped many times to take pics…
We had time, we had no schedule, I didn’t check the time in all the day, and at no time I knew what time it was… and where we were going to…
We arrived in Sort (“luck” in catalan). A village famous for many lottery winning prizes. In Sort we took the C13 to Vielha. Though we didn’t get to Vielha. In Llavorsí we took a small road that followed along a ravine, it was quite windy now. After getting lost at a crossroad we went back, and we followed the road until we arrived to a village. A village with about 20 houses, a small hotel, and another bar-restaurant in front of the hotel. The hotel was actually where we were going to sleep. And I still didn’t know what time it was (and I had not even seen the name of the village…). It was very windy, the sky was starting to be cloudy, though we could still see between the clouds a snow capped peak at the end of the road. It started to rain. We left the bike parked outside and went to the hotel. The room had a terrace with view over a small river.
On the other side there was a shepherd, 3 dogs and many sheeps.
After a well-deserved rest, we went for a walk around the village, take a bite in the bar and another walk through the path at the back of the hotel, along the river.
As the wind started to be quite cold, we went back to the hotel, to rest, to have dinner and finally sleep dreaming of the snowy landscapes waiting for us the next day.
We got up early, had breakfast: toasted bread with “pan con tomate” (you rub the bread with garlic, then with a fresh juicy tomato, and you finish with a bit of virgin olive oil) with Serrano ham. We had decided to follow that road until it ended. We then followed the “Cardos Valley”, with this same snowed peak in front of us, and from time to time another mountain that appeared and disappeared with the twisties. Along the road were nice villages.
We arrived to Tavascan, crossed the village and followed a small road that indicated the ski station (which was closed, but the road was opened). So we started going up, quite slow as the road was very wet in the shadow and quite narrow, but it was quite good though.
After a few kilometres, a “pic stop”… Nice waterfall!
We followed up, and up, stopping from time to time to take pics, and we finally arrived to a tiny village (the station?), but it was the end of the tarmac and between stones, mud and puddles, we decided to turn around an go back. We will come back with a dirt bike!
After a few more pics stops we went back to Llavorsí. We had planned to follow with the C13- C28 to Vielha, and then go back through C230, to Pont de Suert, and then N260 to la Pobla de Segur, stopping for lunch in Senterada, a village where we always try to stop when on our way, to eat toasted bread with homemade pork products in a bar-restaurant-hostal we discovered some years ago by chance.
But let’s not go too fast…
So we took the C13 up… and up we went. The more up we went, the more snow… so we stopped quite often…
Until we got “in the middle” of the snow. We couldn’t stop to stop 😉 .
It had been snowing a few days before, but the road was fully cleaned from the snow. The road had very good tarmac and very nice twisties. We stopped several times, one of them to build a snowman, that looked a little bit scary but well…
The road went up till we arrived to “Port de la Bonaigua”. It was a little bit cloudy there and quite windy. And loads of snow.
The road sign indicating the pass was broken and covered with 2 metres of snow.
After a few more pics we started to go down. On the other side of the pass it’s the start of the “Aran Valley” and the road on that side was in a very bad condition, some parts with no tarmac, with mud, and potholes. So we went down at a slow pace, with beautiful snowy landscapes around, though the peaks were already in the clouds.
We arrived to Vaqueira, ski station quite ugly in my opinion (as so many others….) and proceeded down to Vielha where we took the tunnel (it was sooo cold inside, like a cold tunnel of 5km… the only moment of the trip I felt cold). And then to Pont de Suert. After the village we stopped to help a French couple, with a XJR1300 each, who was lost… how wouldn’t they, they had no map… So we indicated how to go to Bielsa through Ainsa, and we got back on the road. I thought that on that road it was the end of the snow-capped peaks… But I was wrong, we still had a few more to see. And with a beautiful village in the front.
We stopped for a while, in the middle of a field, we could only hear the birds and the silence. The truth is that it would have been an ideal place for a picnic, but we had no picnic nor drink, and as it was starting to be late and we were hungry, we had no more choice than to head to the village of the toasts with homemade pork products. There we stopped for a good while, and yes we had the toasted bread with pan con tomate, ham, 2 different types of dry sausage, another type of pork product, 2 different types of cheese, pate and so on… Everything homemade. After lunch we had some more rest on the terrace outside, next to 2 English bikers.
Well at some point we had to go back home, so we headed back.
We went to Pobla de Segur, and followed the N260 to la Seu d’Urgell, to get back to the road we arrived through. A very nice road but full of Mossos d’Esquadra… (the Catalan police. We saw a couple on their bikes, a mobile radar, and another control later.)
In Sort we went back to the road we arrived from. We did our last pics stop in Pervés Pass and enjoyed a little more of the road…
Then we got to the C14, back to Bassella, where we stopped again to rest and have some coke, and proceeded to Solsona, Manresa, etc… and back home. With lots of traffic and few enjoyment…
In total about 650km of twisties and more twisties, surrounded with snowy landscapes along the whole way, fully enjoying the landscape and the road…
A Happy Birthday 🙂
A few weeks ago, one of the few days of March-April with no rain, as my husband was away for the week-end, I decided to do something I hadn’t been doing for ages: go for a ride-out on my own, and stop as much as I wanted to take pics…
That Spring Sunday, I woke up at about 8.00am, and after breakfast I put on my leathers, together with the recently bought rain jacket (the old one had just died- or at least its zip, after 7 years of intensive service), and I went out… the trip started at last.
I took with me a small cool-box, where I put 2 sandwiches, a coke can, my winter gloves and my rain pants (to keep them cold…).
I started the day taking the C58 road to Manresa. The stunning views of Montserrat Mountains with their peculiar shapes emerging from the mist woke me up completely.
I followed to Manresa, and then I took the C55 through Súria, Cardona… and turned just before Solsona to go up to Sant Llorenç de Morunys through the road of “la Llosa del Cavall” reservoir.
There I stopped for the first time, I was surrounded with fields of small white flowers. So I stopped on a perpendicular road, where some people were flying remote-control scale-model planes.
The second stop was on the reservoir of la Llosa del Cavall. That day was a little strange, with kind of a light mist around giving the landscape a dreamlike aspect. And the reflections were just incredible.
There I HAD TO stop on a bend (with a big hard shoulder though) because the scenery was just too much. I felt like I was somewhere in Scotland, by the Loch Ness or something like this, more than on a road of the Catalan pre-Pyrenees…
After stopping in Sant Llorenç de Morunys to refuel, and make sure of the right way asking to the gentleman in the filling station, I followed the path he indicated. The idea was to go to Coll de Nargó by a road I had taken last summer.
But I got lost, when I arrived to the Pass, I was so concentrated on the road because the tarmac was full of potholes, that I followed the bend on the left, and I didn’t even see that there was another road that was going straight.
So after a good while riding, I realised that the landscape didn’t ring a bell… but it was too late, I was already back in Solsona…
No bother, I had all the day, and nobody would stop me from going to the planned road. So I followed the road that goes to Bassella (and its motorbike museum), a very nice road too, though that day there was a lot of traffic (but also many safe places to overtake). At the cross, I followed in direction of Andorra, and at last I arrived to the cross I should have arrived to from the other way… just after Coll de Nargó.
From there I had a 40km piece of twisty roads in the middle of nature, with almost no traffic at all (I hardly saw 2 or 3 cars).
With this big detour, it was almost 1pm, and I started to be hungry, so I started to look for a place to stop to eat my sandwiches. There was a nice pass, but it was too windy and cold, even though the views were impressive, so I followed.
After about 10km I saw a road that seemed to go to the depths of a valley and looked nice. But I saw it too late and I couldn’t find a place to turn back. So while I was looking for a place to turn back I found another place to stop for lunch. It was a group of 4 houses, with a nice waterfall, and stunning views over the valley. I went down a cement path, quite steep, to the “center” of the “village” (no tarmac there), and there I felt a little like an intruder so I turned back as I could to park the bike half way to the top. Between the houses there was a man and his son (I guess) doing some repair job on a Montesa.
While I stopped, we could only hear the sound of the waterfall and some bird singing from time to time. It was so peaceful.
After having my lunch and taking a good rest, I took some more pics of the bike and went on.
This time without the rain coat, as the sun was now shining and it was much warmer than in the morning.
After a while I overtook a car that was quite slow, and after a bend I found this landscape…
It was more stunning in live than on the pics, there was no hard shoulder, and the road was going down, so I stopped and took the pic from the bike, with the helmet and the gloves on, just in case the car I had overtaken before would arrive…
Then I stopped once again and for the last time a little more down the road to take more pics…
While I was stopped, the car passed me again (I’m sure he’d thought why the hell is she overtaking for losing time stopping all the time afterwards… ).
After a while I got to the Pass I had got lost before and overtook the car again…
And finally I proceeded to Sant Llorenç de Morunys again, with no more pic stops as the weather was starting to get worst now and I preferred not to get rain on the way home (and less a mountain storm).
I refuelled again in Sant Llorenç, and luckily it was not the same gentleman, he would have thought I was crazy going around in circle…
I went down the road through la Llosa del Cavall reservoir, where I had a few rain drops, and with the views not as nice as in the morning, there was now a little bit of wind and no more reflections…
Even with the detours and kilometres, I arrived home quite early, after exactly 372km… and I cleaned the bike from all the insects that had ended their lives on my bike front… and on the helmet… Yes, Spring finally arrived!
Our 2008 holidays started with the car for practical reasons (we were going to a Wedding) and also to save money as the fuel prices in France were like mad and it was better to do as many kilometres as possible with one tank. The area is very nice there and it was the best period as the lavenders were blooming.
We’ll defo have to come back with the bikes.
We didn’t stay long in France and we went back to Barcelona to leave the car and take the bikes. We had planned to go to Asturias, with some stops in the Pyrenees.
We took the following roads:
Barcelona-Tarrega through dual carriage way. Then C53 to Balaguer, then C13 that goes by the fantastic road of Camarasa reservoir with also fantastic views. Then Tremp, La Pobla de Segur and we stopped for lunch in Senterada.
We had stopped there a couple of years back on our way back from a rally. We had then been eating some fabulous “torradas” (big slices of farmhouse bread) and the owner had us tasting some homemade pork products. Yummy. So we had decided to come back… And we asked for some “torradas” and they brought: bread (as much as we wanted), with tomatoes and garlic from their back garden for the “pan con tomate” (you rub them on the bread, and add olive oil), and ham from the village, 3 kinds of dried homemade sausages, and 3 kinds of homemade cheese. So when we finished my husband wouldn’t fit in his leather suit anymore lol and we almost had to stay there for the night! Lol
Well we finally proceeded through Pont de Suert, Castejón de Sos, Ainsa (beautiful road along a gorge) and ended up in Bielsa where we would stop for a couple of nights.
In Bielsa they were kind enough to welcome us with a beautiful full moon coming out from behind the mountains, and a bar provided the use of a telescope to their clients against just buying one drink.
The following day we had planned to go for a loop going through the French side and going up (and down) a few of the famous “Tour de France” ports. There is a tunnel separating France and Spain. On the Spanish side there wasn’t a lot of sunshine, but it didn’t seem it was going to rain. Though when we went out of the tunnel, we got welcomed with some thick fog, and we had to go down the port at 20km/h. After a while down, the fog was gone but it was still quite cloudy. We tried anyway to go up the road to the “Col d’Aspin”. After a few kilometres we had to turn back, as the fog was back again, and there is no point going up the road to a foggy port with no view.
We had our lunch in a French village (I won’t reproduce the conversations I heard from other clients next as they made me feel ashamed of being French at that time…), and we went back to the Spanish side.
On the other side the sun was now shining and we could enjoy the nice views, and stop a few times for taking pictures.
We also had a “technical” stop: I was going in the front, and just before a big bend, I see behind me that my husband is beeping the horn and stops on the very narrow hard shoulder (on the bend). I stop and think “Ok, the landscape is beautiful but he must have gone mad to stop in the middle of a bend”… I walk up to him and he says “my bike just stopped”, and at the same time I see him putting a funny face, and he tells me “nothing, I think I may have touched the red ignition button”…
Well, those things happen… so as we were there, we took a couple of pictures and also picked up and ate a few strawberries which were there waiting for us on the banks.
The following day we started our journey to Asturias again, leaving the hotel very early in the morning and enjoying some unforgettable views between Bielsa and Ainsa, with the sun beams coming from the top of the mountains. There is no picture of those beautiful moments, but I have them imprinted in my memory.
We followed to Boltaña, Broto, Biescas and Sabiñanigo and then Jaca to Pamplona. The next stop was close to Laredo where he had a late dinner with some friends. We arrived in Asturias very late… There is no graphic memory of that part as we spent most of our time with friends from bar to restaurant…
As we didn’t get enough kilometres done yet, a few days later we headed West again, to Ferrol, Galicia. The weather was not great there to go with the bikes, so we just had some rest and on our way back, we went through the National Park of “Ancares” where we stopped for
Then we proceeded to León where we stopped for the night and went for a tourist walk, and the next day I was heading back to Barcelona while Juan was going back to Asturias for an additional week.
Quite a few kilometres in 2 weeks, it was nice!
On our bucket list to go back to Bielsa for more days and at last go through the roads of the “Tour de France” with their many ports.